Okay, so this isn't a game review but I'm putting in this section regardless!
First off, I will say that I enjoyed the original Ant-Man movie. Paul Rudd always plays a charismatic role and an ex-con trying to rebuild his life while reconnecting with his daughter is a worthy role for Rudd's talents. It was a very different story compared to other Marvel stories which allowed Ant-Man to be something refreshing in the otherwise repetitive with super-power individuals and people of influence being the heroes (Bruce Banner/Hulk, Thor, Tony Stark/Iron Man, Steve Rogers/Captain America). A hero with a redemption arc is nothing new but Ant-Man's redemption was always a bit more personal than the others with his background and personal relationships with his daughter and ex-wife.
With that said, there are a number of important callbacks from the old Ant-Man and Avengers movies. If you haven't watched them all don't worry though, you can still watch and enjoy the movie but may miss some of the references. Likewise, if you haven't watched the first season of Loki on Disney+ then there is some background about the main villain that might be useful in understanding the true nature of the threat.
All of that aside, what follows is my review of this movie itself.
Okay, I get it, the bulk of the movie takes place in the quantum realm and things are very different there than on Earth. The quantum realm exists outside of space and time, blah, blah, blah. However, through much of the movie I felt like I was NOT watching a Marvel movie but rather a bad Avatar or Star Wars movie. This was mostly due to the visuals and the heavy CGI creatures and races that inhabit the quantum realm. Paul Rudd and his cast mates were in many of the scenes, albeit they were not in their Pym tech outfits for parts of it, but it still didn't feel like an Ant-Man film.
The overall story was interesting and I can certainly see how it ties itself to the existing storylines as well as setting up future stories. I won't say it was a bad entry in the Marvel franchise but it was far from my favorite. There were some fun verbal exchanges and some good action sequences. I found it to be entertaining, amusing at times, but it felt like something was lacking.
When the final credits finished and the last end credit scene concluded, I realized what was missing from the film. Throughout the entire movie I was waiting for, anticipating, Micheal Pena's character Luis to show up and do his classic high speed and comical retelling of events but at no point did that character make an appearance in the movie. He had appeared in both of the preceding films and was as much of the universe created by the writers as the other characters but was somehow absent from this the third entry in the franchise.
His character brought a sense of levity and humor to the films and without him this film felt too heavy in comparison. It was still a far cry from the dark, depressing stories that some of the early DC films tried to bring us but was not exactly the fun, quip-filled adventures of the other top-tier Marvel movies. This movie fell somewhere in between. It was like Thor: Love and Thunder minus the opening scene. Internal family strife, an all-conquering and murderous villain, and a triumphant victory that was completely expected and not in the least bit surprising.
This flick helps to set the stage for Phase 5 and 6 in Marvel's grand plan and does a good job setting up Ant-Man's daughter Cassie to potentially join the Young Avengers squad in a later movie or for Ant-Man to establish himself as a potential leader in whatever next-level threat shows up. It sets up the stage for the many variations of Kang to play a bigger role in the films yet to come too and even includes a teaser for season 2 of Loki.
At the end of the film, I went home glad that I had watched this adventure in the theaters but not excited at the prospect of watching again later when it comes to streaming. I liked it but didn't love it. I might have liked it more if Micheal Pena's character had narrated the opening and closing sequences instead of it being Paul Rudd's Scott Lang doing some inner monologuing. I just think Marvel missed an opportunity to include a fan favorite occurrence that would have added some better humor to the movie while including a character that has become as synonymous with this franchise as Ant-Man himself.
People are pointing out the low score for this film on Rotten Tomatoes and part of me thinks it is undeserving but at the same time I understand it. It lacked the awe of Iron Man and the humor of Thor Ragnarok. It lacked the sense of adventure from Captain America and the playfulness of a giant Thomas the Train from the first Ant-Man. But it still had the loving father fighting to protect his daughter and a tyrannical villain hellbent on destroying those who stand against him. It had the classic superhero versus maniacal conqueror. It had pretty standard story for a superhero flick but in the wake of all the movies that came before it this one didn't stand out. I think part of the low score by others was due to that fact. There was nothing special about it. The genre has become so saturated with movies that viewers are going to need more and more from each movie to keep that sensation of being special. Instead, with this film, it all just seemed average. It was an average story. There was average dialogue. The special effects were good but felt familiar.
The only thing that really stood out, aside from Micheal Pena's absence, was the new addition of Bill Murray. Bill Murray is a positive addition to any movie in my book.